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Verwood builder Stuart Price jailed for £1million VAT fraud
A VERWOOD builder has been jailed for 18 months after defrauding the taxman of more than £1million.
Stuart Cleveland Price, 48, of Dewlands Common, made fake VAT repayment claims, leading HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators to expect he had invoices for more than £9million.
But an investigation by HMRC discovered that Price, who was the director of three Dorset building companies, had faked most of the invoices to reclaim VAT he was not entitled to, and only a fraction of the £9million appeared in his trading records.
The offences had been carried out between October 2007 and June 2011.
John Cooper, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said: “Price committed fraud over a number of years, deceiving not only HMRC, but also the thousands of businesses who operate honestly and within the law.
“When he was asked for documentation to support the repayment claims, he produced bank statements that had been doctored with amounts that did not add up. He also provided invoices that had genuine headings but where the details were false.
“HMRC thoroughly investigates suspected tax fraud, and clamps down on those who cheat the system. Anyone can report a fraud by calling the 24-hour hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
The fraud was stopped after HMRC officers raided Price’s home and business address in June 2011 and removed his business records.
They found Price had traded for a number of years before he started to submit fraudulent VAT repayment claims.
Stuart Cleveland Price was charged with three VAT fraud offences on September 27 last year. He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing and was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court last Friday.
HMRC will be seeking to recover the money at a confiscation hearing.
Price’s companies were ECO Homes Constructions Limited, formerly based in Wimborne, Dorset, The Steel Frame Company Limited and SIPS ECO Panels Direct Limited, both based at Allens Lane, Hamsworthy, Poole, Dorset.